October 1st was the
first time I taught a Reality-Based Personal Protection course in Belgium, and
the fertile ground was broken with my Knife Survival course. With me in the
Czech Republic two weeks before that, and now Belgium, this means that I have
boots on the ground in two new countries. This November will be the third, but
Iíll report about that when that seminar is over.
Nicolas Marucci, my Reality-Based Personal Protection Director for Belgium, has been my director there for two years now, but up to this point we never ran any courses there. Itís not that we didnít want to do it, itís just that we were working on many other projects together. For example, I was just in Belgium in August, but Nicolas and I were working on some video projects that will be going up on my YouTube channel soon. Before that Nicolas has been faithfully driving to Solingen, Germany every time I ran a seminar at my European Headquarters in Solingen giving us the chance to work with each other four times a year; not counting when I was teaching in Paris and Amsterdam.
We finally decided to have our first seminar in Belgium and it took place in the city of Charleroi; about a two and a half hour drive from Solingen. The course was held at Laurent Porigneauxís self-defense and Mix Martial Arts school called Impact Panthers. The school is very large, with two training rooms, and a full size boxing ring. Next to the school, on the same property, is a martial arts supply store. I had the pleasure of meeting with Laurent in August and laying the ground work for the seminar. Nicolas teaches regularly out of the school, and practically every martial artist in Charleroi knows Nicolas; he cannot go a block anywhere without someone saying, "Salut Nicolas!" (Hello Nicolas) or "Bonjour maÓtre!" (Good day master). Even when we are walking around the capital Brussels there are people who stop him to greet him, for he is a former champion well known in his country.
I had exactly 30 students in my Knife Survival course in Charleroi, which was exciting; because that made a total of 66 people I trained in knife defense on this single trip to Europe. I limit my class size to 20 students. Within this group there were a lot of professionals: Brussels Police SWAT, a dozen security specialists, doormen, and a few martial arts instructors. My oldest student, Andre Detois, is 65 years old and was not afraid to mix with the young fighters. I told him that he was a great role model for the younger guys. He's like my student and friend back home in California Mike DiGiovanni who is now 73 years-old and still doing fitness and the martial arts practically everyday.
Our first seminar in Belgium was a success, and to celebrate Nicolas and his girlfriend took me out to a very nice dinner. We toasted to a job well done with our favorite Italian Lemoncello liquor; itís something we always drink after dinner when he comes to help me teach in Ravenna, Italy, and so we decided to make it also a tradition in Belgium. Each of my directors and I have our own unique tradition we do after successful seminar.
At 2:30 am Nicolas had just got off of work doing security at a political event. He was protecting the City Manager of the City of Charleroi. He had to work three hours after we finished our course. His girlfriend, who got enough sleep, volunteered to drive me to the airport in Dusseldorf, and Nicolas said he would just catch some shut eye in the back seat. I volunteered to drive, it wasn't necessary. It gave me a chance to get in another hour and a half of sleep. At 9:20 in the morning I was on a flight out of Germany and back to the United States.
During the entire three country seminar circuit I managed to keep up, somewhat, on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. It was only the last two days of my trip where I dropped the ball. Every day I have new people joining me from the four corners of the world, and many people appreciate my daily self-defense tips. Facebook has showed me just how large the martial arts community really is, and I am amazed at how many people, even traditional-based and sport-based practitioners are coming to me. Plus, I am getting people who have no martial arts background coming to me because they are learning life-saving tips off of my YouTube videos.I had one man in my Terrorism Survival class in Solingen do a almost perfect hand grenade survival technique when I first threw in a hand grenade simulator. Knowing that he was not former military I asked him, "Where did you learn that?" His response was, "From your DVD." This is exactly why I am putting up more and more techniques on YouTube. I want people to survive if they ever faced with crime or terrorism.
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved.